By Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times
Many more babies die in the United States than you might think. In 2014, more than 23,000 infants died in their first year of life, or about six for every 1,000 born. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 other industrialized nations do better than the United States at keeping babies alive.
This is hard for some to comprehend. Some try to argue that the disparity isn’t real. They assert that the United States counts very premature babies as infants because we have better technology and work harder to save young lives. Therefore, our increased rate of infant death is not due to deficiencies, but differences in classification. These differences are not as common, nor as great, as many people think. Even when very premature births are excluded from analyses, the United States ranks poorly.
Even among those people who accept the statistic, most assume that high infant mortality is because of poor prenatal care. But new evidence is coming to light that contradicts that conclusion. This could change our thinking about the problem.
Infant mortality is not distributed equally in the United States. In 2013, the infant mortality rate among non-Hispanic whites was five per 1,000 births, as was the rate among Hispanics. The rate among non-Hispanic blacks was more than 11 per 1,000 births.
Mothers younger than 20 or older than 40 have children with a higher rate of mortality. Firstborn babies have a higher chance of…